October 10, 2015 -- With some of the guests getting into the spirit donning tie dyes and a few others more formal garb associated with that decade of lost innocence and social upheaval, the Sea Cliff Village Museum hosted an opening reception for its exhibit Sea Cliff in the 1960s this past Friday evening. Collages and sculpture by Sea Cliff artist Katie Seiden, who was on hand to speak with visitors about her work throughout the evening, and photographs by former resident Bertram W. Scholes are the central pieces of the showcase, with various artifacts and memorbilia - some specific to Sea Cliff and others more general to the time period - complementing them perfectly.
Sea Cliff in the Sixties depicts a decade that perhaps seems to many to have been a simpler more innocent time but also one of tremendous turmoil and tension as the struggle for African American civil rights, women's rights, and the Vietnam War exposed fissures and injustices in American society that could no longer be ignored - a sort of Sea Cliff version of The Wonder Years.
Mr. Scholes' photographs portray the innocence of the decade capturing a sort of Main Street USA feel with a color tone that cannot be replicated with digital cameras - scenes of majorettes marching in parades, local mom and pop businesses, small public gatherings, and an old man asleep in a rocker on his porch, as well as Sea Cliffians enjoying leisure activities such as skating on Scudders Pond or going to the beach. Except for the design of the cars and the names of the businesses, the scenes are not all that different from what one might find in Sea Cliff today.
Two of Ms. Seiden's works on the other hand, which perhaps stand out the most in the exhibit, are much more provacative, portraying the turmoil of the decade - commenting on the United States Government's policies in Vietnam and the anti-war movement. Her collage Protest I includes a torn American flag on the left side, and a painted flag facing downward on the right, the red stripes perhaps evoking blood dripping. Cut from magazines are black and white images of the faces of two Vietnamese children looking upward, frightened. Across the collage is stenciled "I Won't Fight in Vietnam" and below is scrawled "Columbia." The companion piece, located in a separate room, Protest II, is an assortment of American flag images and doctored cut-outs from magazines and newspapers of pop icons of the time, with Roy Lichtenstein's 1966 "Pop" Newsweek cover being the dominant image.
Several other works of Ms. Seiden are also included in the exhibit, including an ashtray made with Garvies Point clay painted as an American flag, a sculpture from her "Recall" series referencing the death of Herman Tarnower, the Scarsdale Diet Doctor, at the hands of Jean Harris, and a 1969 pastel of a bucolic Hempstead Harbor.
Complementing Ms. Seiden's and Mr. Scholes' pieces are a wide variety of artifacts and memorbilia from the decade including "duck and cover" and "how to survive a nuclear war" advice brochures, album covers, original posters from the first art shows and Minimart as well as pill box hats, tie-dyed shirts, dashikis, eye glasses, and a bathing suit by the 1960s fashion designer Rudy Gernreich who invented the "Monokini" - the unisex topless bathing suit, and who was among the first to integrate plastic and vinyl into his designs. Accompanying the bathing suit (not one of Mr. Gernreich's topless ones) is a photograph of Ms. Seiden wearing it at the beach during the 1960s.
The Museum will be open on Sundays from 2 - 5 pm. For further information, please call 671-0090.
T. Madden (Northwordnews)
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